Dive Off the Fiscal Cliff

Read my lips: new taxes. Before I go into my snarky assessment of this and that and who did what and what it all means, the very bottom line is that, due to the so-called fiscal cliff agreement, your payroll taxes will increase by two percent. Just thought you might want to know that before continuing on.

By the way, that two percent comes from the long-awaited elimination of the infamous “Bush tax cuts,” which were a particular evil from a Republican propaganda that enacted the dark magic of giving American citizens more spending money.

Anyway, back to the fiscal cliff, which was a term that sort of appeared overnight rather recently, dominating the hearts and minds of the Internet and television programs, looming like some dark, left-wing specter. The constant threat was the scenario where the House and Senate didn’t find a way to play “Let’s Make a Deal” and let the fiscal cliff happen.

Yes, as scary as its name might sound, the cliff is, in theory, a good thing; as a sharp decline in the federal deficit, it would (again, in theory) reduce our debt considerably. In practice, it won’t actually do that, but we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. But where were we?

Ah yes, the deal.

First of all, back to the “overnight” nature of the term “fiscal cliff;” we shouldn’t forget that Congress had well over a year to get this damn thing sorted out. Instead of being responsible and planning their schedules properly, the House and Senate, for no discernible reasons (other than fear and laziness) put the deal-making off until the literal last possible minute (the cliff had to be enacted before January 1), or, in the House’s case, two hours after the last possible minute.

Of course, in a gesture of extreme integrity, Congress has been gracious enough to backdate all of their deals and signatures to make it appear they met their deadline, sort of like how you write your essay the day it’s due and then put last Thursday’s date in the upper left hand corner. Of course, in this situation, your essay decides the economic fate of the country and you have over 500 days to write it, but I’m probably just splitting hairs here.

The reason Congress had so damn long to wait to send America into a panic is because of the nature of this stupid “fiscal cliff.” See, it was all planned out almost two years ago, way back in 2011, when our country was about to crash through the debt ceiling faster than Willy Wonka’s great glass elevator. The debt ceiling, of course, being another totally arbitrary bit of political jargon that is essentially just the credit limit on America’s Discover Card.

In order to raise the debt ceiling and save the earth from certain doom, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, in which they gave themselves 507 days in order to make some compromises with themselves so they could agree with themselves to save themselves. And even then, they only barely made it, the compromise being that, essentially, taxes would be raised on a good deal of Americans, government programs from Defense to

Education would all be cut, and somewhere along the line, Congress would once again wait until the last minute to make a deal, this time on how all that extra moolah should be spent.

They really don’t learn their lesson.

Furthermore, while the fiscal cliff is a good thing for America in theory, economists predict that even the slight raise in taxes could send us near a deeper recession. To sink the S.S. Irony even deeper, all of this cutting and raising probably won’t make a dent in our national debt at all.

This the economical equivalent of putting a Barney band-aid on a scimitar wound. All we’re doing is slowing our inevitable crash and burn, and who’s to blame?

You’ve heard it a thousand times before, and it may even sound like whining by now, but what the hell are those idiots on that hill even doing? Not their jobs, if it takes them 508 days to agree on a series of prewritten fiscal policies.

Congress is to blame. These are the same idiots who come up with such gems as “legitimate rape” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And even now, they’re twiddling their thumbs and failing to provide an adequate plan for spending cuts and alterations in funding following the fiscal cliff. Even now, they’re distracting us with bullshit legislation fueled and funded by their special interest groups. Even now, they’re up there laughing at us.

What is our country coming to when our greatest threat may not be external, but internal, from our own legislators?

Ryan M. Cady is a third-year psychology and English double major. He can be reached at rcady@uci.edu.